Sri Lanka’s Bar Association Launches New Anti-Torture Unit
Sri Lanka and Human Rights Researcher,
Global Human Rights Defence.
Last week the Legal Aid Committee of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) launched an Anti-Torture Unit in line with BASL’s dedication to stop torture (Madhara, S., 2021). The new Unit is focused on issues surrounding torture, such as police brutality or deaths in police custody (Tamil Guardian, 2021). One of the initiatives within the Anti-Torture Unit will be the introduction of a hotline operated by volunteers, who will monitor and write down complaints concerning alleged instances of torture, and cooperate with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (Madhara, S., 2021). At the launch ceremony of the new Unit, the President of BASL’s Counsel, Saliya Pieris, affirmed BASL’s commitment to the rule of law which according to Pieris also entails seeking to end torture and custodial violence (Madhara, S., 2021). Additionally, Supreme Court Judge, Justice S. Thurairaja, asserted that an increased accountability on a higher level will in turn better protect the people on lower levels (Tamil Guardian, 2021). Moreover, Thurairaja highlighted the existence of torture in Sri Lanka within various institutions, including the Police Department, Prisons Department, and universities (Tamil Guardian, 2021). He stated that ‘[t]orture [...] takes many forms such as psychological and physical forms. Thus, [the introduction of the Anti-Torture Unit] is a timely gesture’ (Tamil Guardian, 2021). Previously, many human rights organizations, such as Human rights Watch and the International Truth and Justice Project have voiced their concerns over the reports of torture in Sri Lanka (Tamil Guardian, 2021).
Sources and further reading:
Madhara S. (2021, December 01). BASL begins Anti-Torture Unit, new hotline to report cases. Daily News. https://www.dailynews.lk/2021/12/01/law-order/266164/basl-begins-anti-torture-unit-new-hotline-report-cases
Tamil Guardian (2021, December 03). Sri Lanka’s Bar Association launches Anti-Torture Unit as police brutality ramps up. Tamil Guardian. https://www.tamilguardian.com/content/sri-lanka-s-bar-association-launches-anti-torture-unit-police-brutality-ramps